NRC issues regulatory guidance to licensees

April 17, 2020, 8:25AMNuclear News

Recognizing the challenges that nuclear materials licensees may face in meeting certain regulatory requirements, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has developed options for licensees that may need regulatory relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. The options for providing regulatory relief were outlined in an April 7 letter from the NRC to licensees authorized to possess by-product, source, and special nuclear materials, including licensed nuclear materials users, uranium recovery, decommissioning (both materials and users), fuel facilities, and spent nuclear fuel storage facilities.

The options: The NRC noted that it has a number of options for providing relief from regulatory requirements while continuing to maintain safety and security, including exemptions from regulatory requirements, amendments to license conditions or technical specifications, and enforcement discretion.

The NRC said that licensees that anticipate that they will be unable to comply with a regulatory requirement or license condition should contact the NRC as soon as a potential issue is identified and request a license exemption or amendment. The agency said that it will review such requests on a case-by-case basis. In cases where multiple licensees in a specific class are experiencing the same challenges in meeting a certain regulatory requirement, the NRC will consider developing a streamlined process for pre-identified relief requests.

The NRC also noted that, consistent with its enforcement policy, it may issue an enforcement guidance memorandum authorizing inspectors to use discretion not to cite certain violations of requirements when specified criteria are met. The agency staff will evaluate the need for an enforcement guidance memorandum based on issues raised by licensees and industry groups, according to the NRC.

In the rare instance where immediate relief is required, the NRC said, a licensee may contact its project manager, the licensing point of contact, or NRC branch chief during normal working hours. In urgent cases, licensees can also contact NRC headquarters.

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